Okay, so I just want to say a massive THANK YOU! to whoever has favourited, followed and/or reviewed Of Punctuality. Omgeez, how did it get that popular? I mean, I got nearly three thousand views, which is nearly one third of the total views of Dreams, which has eleven chapters. THANK YOU!
So, THIS fanfic is a thank you present. I don't think it is as good as Of Punctuality, but it's the best I did. Also, it was meant to be a bit…angsty?…but it didn't really turn out that way.
Hermione clutched the limp body in her arms tightly, hoping against hope that what she feared has not just happened.
"Fred! Come on, get up!"
She pointed her wand at him, summoning up any and all healing and revitalising spells she could remember in the midst of a battle. The noises of the battle that was ensuing around the pile of rubble surrounding her and the body in her arms filled her ears, but they were not registered and instead ignored. Nothing mattered except him.
"Fred! Come on! Renervate!"
He was only stunned. He'll pop back up and be right as rain in a moment.
The body refused to resume working. Hermione felt the tears start to well up as the fact that her brain was refusing to believe start to sink in.
"No! Fred!" She still tried. Again and again and again. "You are not dying on me, Fred Weasley!"
He would have to live. At least until the end of this battle, heaven above knows when that will be. He has to at least give her a chance to do this.
It's useless, a voice inside her head said. He's dead.
"No!" It wasn't possible. He's not…. "Fred…"
She was about to tell him. She had never managed to work up the courage to, but just after this bloody battle had started, she had planned to tell him at the end of it all.
But now she can't. Now he'll never know.
Hermione looked down at him, taking him in properly. At least he had died laughing, the mirth and glee would now be ever-present in the grin that etched his face. He had died laughing, and she supposed that's the best way he could have died.
That didn't help her to cope with the fact that he's dead.
She saw the flash of green light right before it hit her.
A white light was poking and probing at the inside of her lids. It seemed to want her to wake up. Hermione tried to silently shoo it away. She wanted to keep on sleeping, and she was very comfortable at the moment. She could feel a big, plushy pillow underneath her head, and what seemed to be soft, thick sheets draped over her body.
The light kept persisting. Hermione sighed. She should get up. It was probably already 6 in the morning and she needed to do her daily routine. Getting up at 6.15 was going to throw that off course.
As her eyelids groggily yielded to the opening pull, the fact that the room she was in was not her room at Hogwarts hit her brain. As her eyes adjusted to the soft, white light that somehow managed to not be blinding, she registered a white room with white walls and white floor and a white bed that she was lying on.
Why the heck is everything white?
Also, where am I?
She tried to sit up, feeling her bones creaking and her muscles groaning in response. As soon as the thought registered in her head, the pain went away.
She looked around, trying once again to register where she is. When it became evident that that information was not forthcoming, she turned her logic to how she ended up in this place. The last thing she remembered was —
Then the memories hit her, and she realised. She's dead. She remembered Harry calling out her name as she was crying over Fred's body. She remembered whirling around. She remembered a jet of green light hurtling towards her from (who else?) Bellatrix Lestrange herself.
Does that mean this is heaven?
Who'd said you'd be in heaven in the first place?
Good point. But this seems too nice to be hell.
Maybe they're luring you into a false sense of security.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
Hermione turned towards the door.
"Who is it?"
"You probably don't know me, love," came a female voice from the other side, "but I'm Lily Potter. Harry's mum?"
"Oh." That must mean this is heaven then. She couldn't imagine Harry's parents going to hell. Hermione rushed to open the door. "Hello," she said to the redheaded woman on the other side, and nearly reeling back in surprise.
Hermione had heard about Harry's eyes being just like his mother's, but now that she is seeing the woman in person, she was struck by just how much they resembled each other's. The shape was minutely exact, and the breathtaking colour was uncanny, striking as always.
"Your eyes look like Harry's," she said before she could stop herself.
The lady chuckled.
"I've heard that once or twice," she said, smiling fondly. "Well, hello to you, too, and welcome to heaven."
"So this is heaven?" she said, opening the door wider to let the older woman in. "Is that why it's all white?"
"You know you can change it?" Mrs Potter said, sitting down on a chair next to a desk. "Make it look just the way you want it. You can even change it if you change your mind. Frilly princess one day, emo girl the next."
Hermione laughed again, liking this lady already.
"What's yours look like?" she asked randomly.
"Like my room at my house," the lady answered, a wistful look entering her eyes. "I share with James, and Sirius is right next door. You would think heaven would have forbid we have to put up with this irritating habits again, but no such luck," the woman rolled her eyes. "How are you going to decorate your room?"
"I don't know," Hermione admitted. "Probably just like my dorm room at Hogwarts or my bedroom at home."
"You'd never run out of books to read, huh?"
"Probably not," Hermione smiled. "Although I've read all the books in my room."
"Actually, up here," Harry's mother said, "you can just say you want any book and it'll be given to you."
"That's why it's called heaven, love."
"Thank you, Mrs Potter."
"Call me Lily, love," the lady said. "We're both dead women after all," she said with a smile. "Heaven knows we need to unite against the all the boys up here. I've waited long enough for you to come."
Hermione smiled shyly, not really sure what to make of the compliment.
"Um, Mrs - Lily," she asked. "Do you know Fred Weasley? It's only that…well, I know he's dead, and I guess I assumed he would be up here, and—"
"And you want to see him?" Lily smiled. She seemed to understand why. "He's just over near my room, gobsmacked at finding out his idols were really Harry's father and godfather all along."
Hermione beamed. Lily smiled indulgently.
"Come on," she said, standing up. She took Hermione's hand and walked out the door. "I'll take you there."
Hermione beamed, although she was slightly embarrassed that Harry's mother knew of her (well-kept, she had to admit) secret.
As she followed Lily out the door, she found that there were hallways, as there would be at a hotel. So heaven is one massive hotel.
She didn't realise until Lily chuckled that she had said that out loud.
"A few hotels, actually," she clarified. "There's everything you could every want. Swimming pools, sport courts, even a library," the woman turned around and winked. Hermione grinned, knowing that her teasing was referring to both of them.
"Here it is," Lily said, after a couple of minutes. She stopped in front of a wooden door, the wood a beautiful rosewood colour. The two women could hear loud talking and laughing on the other side of the door, but what exactly was being said, Hermione couldn't make out. Lily rolled her eyes at her, and Hermione couldn't help but smile at the idea of what the boys could be up to.
Lily opened the door, and Hermione was treated to a full-blown view of three grown men behaving like three-year-olds. They were rushing around the room like kindergarteners on a sugar rush, grabbing things here and there and throwing them aside when they don't need it anymore, and poring over what looked like Harry's Marauder's Map, except the outline of the building on it didn't look like Hogwarts.
"James and Sirius have been doing pranks on people we know in Heaven since Sirius came up here two years ago," Lily said in explanation. Hermione thought she sounded a bit exasperated. The boys were still too engrossed in whatever they were doing to notice the two ladies standing at the door. "Guess Fred got to join in the fun."
At this Hermione's eyes found Fred's bright red hair between James' jet black and Sirius' raven. It wasn't hard to notice really. She took him in as he bustled around the room with Sirius and James. He seemed perfectly healed, his body bearing no sign of the damage he took in the battle and from the exploding wall. The grin she saw etched on his face as she held him in the battle was now enlivened with mischief and the ideas that were no doubt whizzing around in his brain. He was in his element, planning some spectacular prank to be done with his idols.
James' gaze was finally given enough rest from scrutinising the map, and linger somewhere else long enough to notice the ladies by the door.
"Oh, hello, love," he said to Lily, walking over and pecking her on the cheek. Then he looked over to Hermione. "Who's this?"
"This is Hermione Granger," Lily said. "Whose brain Harry wouldn't have survived without."
"Well, hello," James said, extending his hand to Hermione, who shook it. "I'm Harry's dad, as you may know. Thank you for looking after him, by the way. Merlin knows he needed it."
"It was nothing," Hermione said modestly.
"So what are you up to this time?" Lily asked, nodding her head to Sirius and Fred who were still too immersed in planning to notice them.
"Well, we decided to celebrate Fred's joining us," James said, grinning. "So this will be bigger than any we've ever done. His mind is brilliant, though, the chap. Full of ideas. Eh, Padfoot?"
The two looked up at James' voice, and Fred's viridescent eyes found Hermione's chocolate ones.
"Hermione," he breathed.
Hermione smiled softly.
"Hermione, what are you doing here?" Fred asked, his eyes widening. "You shouldn't be here, you should be down there still battling and…"
"Yes, well," Hermione let the sentence hang.
"Hermione…" Fred whispered. He seemed to be lost forward. He walked forward and hugged her, hard. "I'm so sorry."
"Don't be," Hermione asked, hugging him back. "You have nothing to be sorry for."
"Who did it?"
He seemed to realise who was in the room with them.
"No, it's alright, Fred," Sirius said seriously. "Go ahead. We don't mind."
"Fred, it's alright," Hermione said. "There's nothing you can do about it now."
"I can go haunt her," Fred suggested, pulling away, so Hermione noticed the gleam in his eyes that could only mean one thing. "Or prank her! A really big prank, right from heaven, so that she'll never be able to find the culprit, even when she dies, because that bitch doesn't even deserve to go to hell."
Everyone was staring at him. Hermione was wondering whether you could even prank someone from heaven, and from the mischievous questioning look James and Sirius threw to each other, so were they. It was a long moment before Hermione let out a small smile.
"You're right, she deserves worse than hell," she said. "She deserves Tartarus."
"What's Tartarus?" Sirius asked.
"It's a place in the Greek Underworld, where the dead go in Greek mythology," Lily explains. "Tartarus is the worst place there, even worse than the Fields of Punishment. Even the gods don't dare go in it."
"Sounds perfect for that bleeding, evil, goddamned she-devil."
"Whoa, Fred, calm down," Hermione smiled. "I appreciate the concern, but really it was sort of my fault. My guard was down, and she took her opportunity."
Fred frowned at her.
"Why did you let your guard down?"
"Umm," Hermione stammered. Okay, then, here goes. "Can I talk to you privately?"
Fred's eyebrows cinched together even more, showing his evident confusion as to what secret would answer something as simple as her letting down her guard.
He followed her outside, and around the hallways as she tried to remember the way back to her room. It wasn't hard, because the her room and the Potters' and Sirius' were only a couple of turns away. She stopped in front of her door.
"This is my room," she announced. "I haven't decorated it yet or anything but…"
"Mine is next door," Fred smiled. "Looks like you won't be free of me anytime soon."
Hermione vaguely thought that that really wasn't a bad thing at all, and how much she wouldn't mind having him right next door.
"I think that's fine by me," she smiled. She opened the door and stepped in, followed by Fred.
"Yes," she turned around and sat on a chair, facing Fred. "Fred, I…I've got something to tell you."
Merlin, nobody ever thought to describe just how hard it is to admit your affection for somebody. She vaguely wondered if it made it harder or easier that they were dead. At least he won't die of heart failure.
"Oh, um…okay, I'm just going to spit it out," she said hastily. "I like you. I have for years, and…and when you died I was so devastated that I didn't notice what was happening around me, so my guard was down so Bellatrix got to me and now here I am."
She had been looking anywhere but Fred, and his beautiful eyes, afraid of seeing pity or disgust there. Now she looked, and she wasn't sure which was worse; pity, disgust or just staring.
"Ohmygosh now I've gone and ruined my friendship with you I never should have said anything I'm so sorry just forget everything I just said…"
"Hermione," Fred said, cutting her off. "You haven't ruined your friendship with me."
Hermione looked into his eyes again, feeling her heart deflate quicker than a popped balloon. She hadn't ruined her friendship with him. That means she still had his friendship. Friendship. By Merlin, she was friend-zoned.
"Hermione, I'm so sorry," Fred suddenly spoke up.
"It's practically my fault you're dead," Fred said, and she could see his eyes were full of remorse. "You shouldn't have…mourned me so much that you didn't notice people trying to kill you. Hermione, you know better than that. You know better than to worry so much about a casualty in the midst of a battle…"
"You are not just a casualty, Fred Weasley, not to me," Hermione said firmly, standing up. "You can't expect me to take your death as just a casualty of the war, and not as something that could have broken my heart. Not if I've loved you for years, but had never been brave enough to tell you. Not when I was finally able to gather up enough courage and planned to tell you after the battle was over, and then you go and die on me right in the middle of it, and then I never get to tell you. I couldn't have helped it, Fred. I love you."
They only stared at each other after her rant, for a long while. His eyes roved all over her face, stared into her eyes, trying to find something to prove to him that what she had just said wasn't a dream or a hallucination. She looked into his eyes again, relieved and afraid at the same time; relieved that she had finally told him all her feelings, but afraid that those feelings would be rejected.
No, weren't they already rejected? She hadn't ruined the friendship, after all.
"But I suppose it doesn't matter what happened now," she said, smiling ruefully. "We're still friends, so…"
She was cut off by Fred's warm lips on hers, and before she could even think of anything else, her body overrode her brain, and her lips moved of their own accord, kissing him back fervently. She had no idea how long they went for, kissing and clutching each other like it was the end of the world, but when they broke apart they were panting for breath.
"Still convinced we're friends?" Fred asked breathily. Hermione smiled.
"Fine, fine," she rolled her eyes. "But you said before that I haven't ruined our friendship, so I…"
"Took it the wrong way, naturally," Fred finished for her. Hermione glared at him, and he grinned back. "I'm still sorry for being the cause of your death."
"You weren't the cause of my death," Hermione reprimanded, tightening her hold around his waist and resting her head on his chest.
"A factor in your death."
"I don't care," Hermione said. "I'm here with you now. Don't you prefer kissing me than watching me live and fall in love with someone else?"
"How would you know you would fall in love with someone else?" Fred asked, though he did feel a pang of jealousy at the thought.
"It was rhetorical, you silly man," Hermione frowned up at him from her view at his chest, and he couldn't help but think how cute 1`she was like that.
"You're adorable when your frown."
Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Shut up and kiss me."
And he did just that.
A/N: So what do you think?
I really didn't imagine heaven like that, and that's certainly not what my heaven looks like (being a Catholic and all), and I respect everybody else's views of their heaven. This just sort of popped into my head as I was writing and, boom, heaven became a hotel. Hmm…
Anyway, THANK YOU once again for making Of Punctuality so well-liked. I got a email saying someone favourited it within an hour of posting the story. So THANK YOU!
And if you really really really like Of Punctuality, please go to the Twin Exchange Monthly Challenge page, which can be found in the twin Exchange Forum, to vote the the story in the April Twin Exchange Monthly Challenge. I'm not sure if you can vote if you're not a member, but try anyway. The poll will come up today or tomorrow.